Baker Mayfield NFL Draft

Why teams should think twice about drafting Baker Mayfield

The NFL playoffs begin this weekend. However, the majority of NFL fans are now focused on the NFL draft.

This draft is loaded with quarterback prospects. Some of the top talent includes Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen and Josh Allen.

There has also been a lot of NFL talk about Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield. Some people think he can be successful in the NFL. Others see him as a bust.

There are plenty of reasons to avoid drafting Mayfield, at least early on. Here is a list reasons why NFL teams should think twice before taking a chance on the former Oklahoma Sooner quarterback.

The Big 12 Conference

NFL quarterbacks come from all over the country. Case Keenum went to Houston. Carson Wentz went to North Dakota State. Ben Roethlisberger went to Miami, OH.

Don’t forget about the big schools either. Tom Brady went to Michigan. Aaron Rodgers went to California. Matthew Stafford went to Georgia.

Mayfield joins a nice list of dominating Oklahoma quarterbacks. Jason White and Sam Bradford also won Heismans during their time with the Sooners. But there is something disturbing about the quarterbacks the Big 12 has been putting in the NFL.

Mayfield joins the list of dominant Big 12 quarterbacks. (Photo by Associated Press)

Since 2000, 22 Big 12 quarterbacks have been drafted. None of them have panned out as dependable starting quarterbacks. The most notable names to come from the Big 12 include Chris Simms, Vince Young, Josh Freeman, Sam Bradord, Colt McCoy, Blaine Gabbert, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden and Geno Smith.

Some of these guys showed promise early on, but none of them panned out. Simms never started more than 10 games in a season and only played five seasons in the NFL. Young started off nice by bringing the Titans to the postseason a couple times, but ended up busting as well. The Dolphins have only finished over .500 once under Tannehill. Griffin’s knees didn’t survive. Bradford has also spent plenty of time on the sidelines due to injury. Yes, a few of these guys started off nice, but didn’t end well.

Some of these guys put up big numbers in college and even stayed healthy in the NFL. They just were ineffective in the pros. Smith, Weeden, Freeman, McCoy and Gabbert all failed to deliver.

There was no primary starting quarterback from the Big 12 this season. Why does the conference struggle to put out big-time NFL quarterbacks?

The Big 12 style of play is all run and gun. The Big 12 is known for their high scoring games with almost no defense. Oklahoma has had conference wins that ended with scores like 49-41 over Baylor, 42-35 over Kansas State, 62-52 over Oklahoma State and 59-31 over West Virginia.

Oklahoma State was the Big 12’s second best offense and put up scores like 41-34 over Texas Tech, 50-39 over West Virginia and 49-42 over Iowa State. They are scoring a lot of points, but they are also giving up a bunch.

The Big 12’s quarterbacks have inflated stats. You can’t take them seriously because they aren’t playing against any defenses. It may not be fair to say an NFL quarterback can never come from the Big 12, but it’s not that ridiculous of a statement. Times change and quarterbacks can come from even the smallest of conferences. With the Big 12’s current style of play, don’t expect any star quarterback coming from the conference anytime soon.

Size and attitude

One of the bigger knocks on Mayfield is his size. ESPN lists him at 6-foot-1, 220 pounds. Scouts and fans always like a big quarterback.

Yes, there are smaller quarterbacks that start in the NFL. That list includes Drew Brees, Russell Wilson and Tyrod Taylor. There have been smaller quarterbacks in the past that have also succeeded. Don’t rule out a guy just because of size.

Baker Mayfield NFL Draft

Mayfield has issued a few apologies this season after receiving criticism for his antics on the field. (Photo by Getty Images)

The thing about Mayfield is that he reminds people more of Johnny Manziel than Drew Brees. Both Manziel and Mayfield won Heisman Trophies, completed around 70 percent of their passes, were athletic and mobile and made fans hate them with their antics on the field.

Mayfield has already received criticism for talking trash with his opponents, grabbing his crotch and planting an Oklahoma flag on Ohio State’s logo. Manziel received criticism for things mostly off the field like partying, gambling and not working hard.

Do NFL teams want a quarterback that has been labeled as a punk by some? If you look at the NFL’s current starting quarterbacks, none of them have an attitude like Mayfield. The closest guys you could argue would be Cam Newton and Jay Cutler.

Newton has been criticized for a poor attitude before, but not many would call him a punk. The same goes for Cutler. He is known more for whining than anything else.

Mayfield’s personality does not fit the NFL quarterback mold. It is something teams should consider before drafting him.

Final verdict

Former Heisman Trophy winner and Oklahoma Sooner Jason White, along with Chase Daniel from Missouri and Graham Harrell from Texas Tech are notable Big 12 quarterbacks this century to go undrafted. Mayfield probably won’t go undrafted, but teams should proceed with caution.

Taking Mayfield in the first round is risky. Teams interested in Mayfield should wait until the middle rounds to take him. No team should sweat over another team taking Mayfield in the first round. Waiting gives teams more of a low risk high reward.

 

Featured image by Getty Images

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Bill O'Brien

Letting Bill O’Brien go would be insane

The NFL regular season is fast approaching its end. For many organizations, that means speculation about the future of their head coach is running wild. Like any other year, there are many names being run through the rumor mill, but one makes no sense. The Texans would be making a huge mistake by moving on from Bill O’Brien. Here is why.

For the most part, he has won despite a quarterback carousel:

2017 will be the first losing season for O’Brien as an NFL head coach. These are the starting quarterbacks he has had to work with. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Mallet, Tom Savage, the pre Vikings version of Case Keenum, Brian Hoyer, T.J. Yates, Deshaun Watson, Brock Osweiler, and Brandon Weeden.

One of those names requires further explanation later on, but the others are mostly the same bad quarterbacks that get recycled throughout the league whenever a team gets stuck in quarterback purgatory. Yet, O’Brien has won two division titles and a playoff game in Houston.

His primary starting quarterbacks for the division winning seasons were Osweiler and Hoyer. Osweiler had more interceptions than touchdown passes on the 2016 playoff team. Hoyer had a passer rating of barely over 60 in 2015. Forget firing him, O’Brien deserves a statue for pulling that off.

Injuries:    

No head coach is completely blameless for a team’s poor season, but the Texans have just had too many injuries to stay competitive this year. The future looked bright as Watson got off to an unbelievable start. The rookie accounted for 21 touchdowns in just six starts and Houston looked like a true contender in the AFC.

J.J. Watt

Photo: Huffington Post

A torn ACL in practice ended all that. No matter how unstable the quarterback situation became, O’Brien and the Texans could always count on a stout defense to win games. That was not the case this year as top defenders J.J, Watt and Whitney Mercilus also went down to season ending injuries relatively early.

Other than Bill Belichick, no coach on planet Earth is capable of adequately overcoming long term injuries to three of their best players. Additionally, if Watson comes back healthy next year, there is no reason Houston cannot contend again. Watson has voiced his support for O’Brien.

The ownership angle:

O’Brien has a year remaining on his contract. A lame duck coach situation never benefits a franchise.  Thus, it is rare, but not unheard of for a coach to enter the final year of a deal. So, the offseason in Houston should be interesting.

Given that Houston signed Osweiler to a big money contract without O’Brien even meeting him after the 2015 season, lingering friction between owner Bob McNair and the head coach would not be surprising. McNair also made O’Brien’s life more difficult more recently by making some inflammatory remarks regarding the never ending national anthem controversy that put Texans players at the forefront, whether they wanted to be there or not.

Bob McNair

Photo: zambio.com

The bad news for O’Brien is that the owner never fires themselves if there is friction with the head coach. However, ownership is not innocent in Houston’s double digit loss 2017 season. O’Brien has done a fine job in Houston and will continue to do so given the opportunity.

Texans management may not like O’Brien, but it would be difficult to find a replacement that would be an upgrade. The 49ers thought they would be better off without Jim Harbaugh. They are just now starting to dig out of the abyss after almost four years of varying degrees of losing. To avoid a similar fate, Houston needs to keep O’Brien in the building.

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Josh Gordon fantasy

Josh Gordon fantasy football: Fantasy impact unlikely

Josh Gordon is set to play this week for the Cleveland Browns for the first time since 2014. Gordon has been on a roller coaster ride the past three years, being suspended for all of 2015 and 2016. He has not played in a regular-season game since December 2014. But head coach Hue Jackson per Pat McManamon of ESPN  has big plans for him to be a big part in the Cleveland offense.

“My plans for him? Oh boy, let me tell you,” Jackson said. “I got big plans for him. I plan for him to play and play as much as he can handle.”

Jackson also praised the type of player Gordon is and how talented he is and we have seen it before. In 2013 he led the league in receiving yards with 1,646 even though he was suspended the first two games and receiving yards per game (117.6) and posted three consecutive 150-plus-yard games. That has been only done six other times in NFL history and only by Gordon since 1995. In 2014, he was suspended 10 games and finished 303 receiving yards and no touchdowns, catching 24 of 47 targets in five games.

Even though fantasy players are excited to see his return, the impact in fantasy looks unlikely he will perform at a high level. For one reason is the fact he hasn’t played in three seasons, the other is the quarterback situation.

Why Gordon is a Risk

There’s a similar story of Gordon’s return this year. We’ve seen this with Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Martavis Bryant. He had a solid in 2014 when he had 549 yards and eight touchdowns on just 26 catches. In 2016 he was suspended for the whole season.

When he returned in 2017 he was expected to return to form, but he has been one of the biggest disappointments. In his 10 games, he’s averaged 2.7 catches for 34.6 yards and 0.2 touchdowns per game. This has resulted in him asking to be traded and even one week as a healthy scratch.

Gordon has proven to be a better player then Bryant but is possible to become a bust as it has happened to a lot of players who have missed a year for substance violations, some have even never made it back to the NFL.

Josh Gordon fantasy

Josh Gordon (Photo by: seattlepi.com)

The other major factor is Cleveland’s quarterbacks. Cleveland hasn’t had a solid quarterback in a long time. But Gordon has proved to play well with a lower tier quarterback and even went through a trio of them including Brian Hoyer, Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell. He caught at least one touchdown from all three. But the difference in this situation is that they were experienced.

This year it is quite different. Rookie DeShone Kizer has struggled with only five touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Along with that he could see Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan. Not the best group of quarterbacks compared to his monster 2013 season.

A small factor to consider but rather more side note is his game shape and if he’s fully ready to go. He hasn’t played a down in three seasons, so he may not have a big game right off the bat especially late in the season.

Why Gordon is worth the risk

But if there’s glimmer of hope, Gordon has proved to play well and posting huge numbers in a broken system. His 2013 season is the big reason why. He’s only 26 years old and still looks to be in his prime. Along with that, he’s their best receiver even missing this much time. The fact that Jackson is starting him right away and giving him a big workload gives the indicator that Cleveland needs some help anyway they can get it.

Josh Gordon fantasy

Gordon (Photo by: profootballweekly.com)

Gordon can also be a big turn around in the Cleveland offense. Per Pro Football Focus’ Nathan Jahnke pointed out Gordon resides in impressive company when it comes to his field-stretching capabilities: “Most Yards Per Route Run since 06 (min 1000 routes): Julio, Brown, Odell, Green, Andre, Demaryius, Megatron, Steve Smith, Evans, Josh Gordon.”

And the good part about that is Kizer is good throwing the ball deep. In 2013, Gordon had the longest reception of 95 yards as well had the most 20-yard plus receptions with 30 and with the most 40-yard plus receptions with nine. The Browns are looking for some big plays and Gordon could be the x-factor to spice up the offense.

Don’t expect Gordon to return to Full form – yet

In the end though I don’t see Gordon producing much in the next four weeks. But Gordon is an intriguing add especially if your team is in the playoffs. For a team that needs to take that big risk, he’s definitely worth a roll of the dice if you’re a fantasy underdog but don’t expect a big game from him. For teams in no contention he isn’t worth the risk unless you like to steal him away if he hasn’t been picked up.

But this is a story to root for. It looks lie he has turned his life around and ready to be a full participant in the NFL. And I expect him to rebound next season. Looking forward to 2018, I rank Gordon a WR2 but has WR1 potential.

 

Featured image from chicagotribune.com.

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Houston Texans

How The Houston Texans Can Win The Super Bowl

The AFC South has been one of the worst divisions in football for two years now. The Houston Texans have won the AFC South both seasons with back-to-back 9-7 records.

The biggest problem for the Texans is the lack of consistent quarterback play. The Texans started four different quarterbacks in 2015: Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallet, T.J. Yates, and Brandon Weeden. They started two more quarterbacks last season: Brock Osweiler and Tom Savage.

Starting six quarterbacks in two years is not the formula to winning the Super Bowl, but they are really close.

Super Bowl Defense

Houston Texans

(Photo Credit: Brett Coomer / Houston Chronicle )

Offense wins games, but defense wins championships. The Seahawks’ defense was so dominant four years ago that it led them to a 43-8 Super Bowl victory. The Patriots came up with a goal-line interception three years ago to the win the Super Bowl. The Denver Broncos had one of the best defenses in the NFL two seasons ago and shut down the top scoring offense to beat the Panthers in the Super Bowl. The Patriots came back down from 28-3 this past February to win the Super Bowl. That could not have happened if their defense didn’t shut down the high-flying Falcons offense.

The Texans have a defense capable of playing to the level of all these other defenses. Houston allowed the fewest yards in the NFL last season at 301 per game. They also allowed the second-fewest passing yards.

Houston also has the best defensive player in the NFL in J.J. Watt. He only played in three games last season, which makes what Houston’s defense did more impressive.

Watt is a four-time Pro Bowler and a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, which is tied for most all-time with Lawerence Taylor. Adding him back to the mix makes them an elite defense.

The Texans also finally saw the emergence of former number one overall pick Jadeveon Clowney, who had six sacks last season. Clowney’s amazing play doesn’t show up in the stats. He constantly received double teams without Watt in the lineup, but still made plays. In the Wild Card game against the Raiders, he made an incredible interception that took over the game.

These two great defenders will make one of the best pass rushes in the NFL. The Texans also have one of the best linebacking corps in the NFL, headlined by Brian Cushing and Whitney Mercilus. If the secondary can make up for the loss of A.J. Bouye, they could contend for the best defense in the NFL.

What Is Missing?

It is no secret that the Texans need to improve offensively. Houston’s offensive line ranked 18th in the NFL by Pro Football Focus. They must improve both guard positions if they want to improve the overall line play.

Running back is not an issue of concern. Lamar Miller finished 10th in the NFL with 1,073 yards in just 14 games. Alfred Blue is also a solid backup to Miller.

The receiving corp is solid with Jaelen Strong, Will Fuller, and Braxton Miller, but headlined by DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins has 189 receptions, 2,475 yards and 15 touchdowns in the last two seasons. Those stats are impressive with six different quarterbacks over two years.

It all comes back to quarterback play. The Texans are a quarterback away from being the biggest threat to the Patriots in the AFC. There is one quarterback perfect for the Texans that they need to get.

The Missing Piece

Houston Texans

(Photo Credit: http://boltbeat.com)

Houston threw millions at an unproven Brock Osweiler and it failed miserably. Osweiler has since been traded to the Browns and the only quarterbacks on the Texans’ roster are Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden. These quarterbacks won’t even win the division, let alone a Super Bowl. So what should the Texans do?

The Texans could find a quarterback in the draft, but most analysts feel there are no NFL-ready quarterbacks in this draft. Free agency is always an option and Houston was hoping to get Tony Romo, but he retired. Jay Cutler is available, but that option could be just as bad or worse than what they already have.

That leaves only one option, a trade. The Houston Texans should go all in for a trade with the Los Angeles Chargers for Philip Rivers. The Chargers are nowhere close to contending for a championship and Rivers is 35 years old.

Rivers has accomplished a lot in his time in the NFL. His career record is 97-79. Rivers has 314 touchdowns, 156 interceptions and 45,833 yards.

By most comparisons, he is the AFC’s Tony Romo. Everything he has done of significance has come in the regular season. His playoff record is 4-5 and couldn’t get to the Super Bowl with Hall-of-Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson and future Hall-of-Fame tight end Antonio Gates.

This narrative could change with a trade to Houston. His career would be revitalized and he would have a three to four years to win the Super Bowl. He would have the necessary weapons to succeed; such as a running game and a top 10 receiver in the NFL. The Texans would have a top five defense and an offense capable of keeping pace on the scoreboard with any team in the NFL.

Houston, if you want to win the Lombardi Trophy, trade for Phillip Rivers.

 

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